Do Beans Cause Flatulence: Perception Among Adults

Do Beans Cause Flatulence: Perception Among Adults

Beans are a staple food worldwide, known for great nutritional benefits.  However, they are often shunned due to the widespread belief that they cause excessive flatulence.  This belief can stop people from eating beans, despite their benefits. 

Despite these benefits, many consumers avoid beans due to the fear of excessive flatulence, which can be socially embarrassing and uncomfortable. 

It's important to understand the normal biological processes of gas production and expulsion to fully appreciate how beans affect our bodies.  Knowing how gas forms and bean types vary can ease concerns.

Different types of beans and their impact on gut health

Not all beans affect the digestive system equally. Understanding these differences can help maximize their health benefits while minimizing discomfort.

  • Black beans: Black beans are rich in resistant starch and soluble fiber, both of which are beneficial for gut health.  They have a low glycemic index, avoiding rapid blood sugar spikes.   Some studies have found that cooking and cooling change resistant starch levels.  Allowing black beans to cool for 24 hours may increase resistant starch content.  For an additional boost to your gut health, consider integrating The Gut Balance The Good Bug to complement the resistant starch in black beans.
  • Pinto beans: Pinto beans are a good source of dietary fiber and may contain resistant starch.  They help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar regulation. Studies have shown that pinto beans cause more flatulence than some other beans, but this effect tends to decrease with regular consumption. For those looking to maximize resistant starch intake, pinto beans are a great choice after about an hour of cooking.

  • Chickpeas: Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. They contain significant amounts of galacto-oligosaccharides, which contribute to their health benefits but can also cause gas. Despite this, chickpeas are well-known for their ability to aid in digestion and support a healthy gut microbiome.  Cooking chickpeas thoroughly and allowing them to cool may help increase their resistant starch content, which some people find may reduce gas production.

  • Kidney beans: Kidney beans are rich in fiber, protein, and various essential minerals.  The slightly higher content of resistant starch in kidney beans helps maintain a healthy digestive system and regulate blood sugar levels.  However, they also contain higher levels of oligosaccharides, which can cause gas and bloating. Proper soaking and cooking can significantly reduce these effects.

    Lentils: Lentils are a versatile legume that provides a significant amount of fiber and protein. The fiber content in lentils can contribute to lowering cholesterol levels and improving heart health. Lentils cause less gas compared to other beans, making them a more gut-friendly option for many people. They are also quick to cook, making them a convenient choice for adding to various dishes.

  • Peas: Peas, including green peas and split peas, are another excellent source of dietary fiber and protein. They contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, which aid in digestion and promote a healthy gut.  Some types of peas may have lower oligosaccharide content compared to certain beans, potentially resulting in less gas production for some individuals.  They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritious addition to any diet.

Nutritional and health benefits of legumes

Nutritional and health benefits of legumes

Nutritional benefits

  • High protein content: Beans are a crucial source of protein, especially important in vegetarian and vegan diets.
  • Rich in fiber: They support digestive health and contribute to effective weight management.  The Good Bug’s Prebiotic Fiber Boost  can complement the fiber you get from beans, ensuring you get the most out of your nutritional intake.
  • Low in fat and calories: Beans offer substantial nutritional value without contributing to calorie overload.

Weight management and metabolic health

  • Appetite control:  Protein and fiber in beans help reduce hunger, aiding weight loss.
  • Blood sugar regulation: Their low glycemic index helps in managing blood sugar levels, particularly beneficial for those with typ
  • Insulin sensitivity: Regular bean consumption can improve insulin sensitivity, reducing the need for external insulin sources.

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Cardiovascular health

  • Cholesterol reduction:   Beans lower LDL cholesterol and might increase HDL cholesterol.
  • Blood pressure and inflammation: Consuming beans regularly can help reduce blood pressure and decrease inflammation, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Additional health benefits

  • Antioxidant properties: Beans contain antioxidants, which combat free radicals, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Mineral rich: They provide essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium, which are crucial for various bodily functions.
  • B Vitamins: Beans are a good source of several B vitamins, which play a key role in energy metabolism.

Potential risks and adverse effects

  • Toxins in raw beans: Certain beans contain toxins like phytohemagglutinin, which can be neutralized through proper cooking.
  • Phytic acid content: While phytic acid can inhibit mineral absorption, this effect can be reduced through soaking or sprouting beans.
  • Digestive Irritants: Beans contain raffinose, which can cause flatulence and bloating in sensitive individuals.
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort: Although beans are beneficial, they can cause digestive issues due to their high fiber content.
  • Reduction techniques: Soaking, rinsing, and thorough cooking can significantly mitigate digestive problems associated with beans.
  • Perception vs. Reality: The prevalence of bean-induced flatulence may be overestimated and varies widely among individuals.

Understanding gas production

The human intestine naturally produces gas as part of the digestive process. While some people may experience increased gas with bean consumption, this is generally due to the high content of dietary fibers and resistant starches in beans that undergo fermentation in the colon.

Variation in gas production

Individual responses to bean consumption can vary significantly. Factors such as gut microbiota composition, overall diet, and even genetic differences affect how one's body processes beans.

Researchers Donna M Winham and Andrea M Hutchins conducted a detailed examination to understand if eating beans causes stomach discomfort among adults. Results showed that discomfort from gas decreased over time.

With regular beans, the body adapts to more fiber. Interestingly, some participants on control diets without beans also reported increased flatulence, highlighting that sometimes the expectation of gas can influence people’s perception of having it.

Prebiotic stars and prebiotic potentials




Apple, banana, berries, raisins


Onion, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichoke, globe artichoke, asparagus, chicory root, burdock, yacon, jicama, tomato, spinach, collard greens, chard, kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, salsify


Lentils, dry beans, chickpeas, peas

Whole Grains

Whole wheat, barley, rye, oats, brown rice, whole grain corn, buckwheat


Flaxseed, almonds

Other Foods


*These foods have been documented in the scientific literature as sources of inulin and oligosaccharides (nondigestible fermentable carbohydrates).

Source: Gut Insight: Probiotics and Prebiotics for Digestive Health and Wellness by Jo Ann Hattner, MPH, RD

Impact of psychological expectations

Another study investigates the impact of bean consumption on reducing the risk of chronic diseases in older adults (≥65 years).

Recognizing that older adults can significantly benefit from nutrient-dense foods like beans, the research aims to understand their consumption patterns and the factors influencing these patterns.  The study's findings highlight the need for targeted dietary strategies to increase bean consumption among older adults. 

By addressing the identified barriers and promoting the benefits, health practitioners can encourage healthier eating patterns that reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Psychological expectations significantly impact perceptions of flatulence. For instance, studies on olestra, a fat substitute known to cause gastrointestinal symptoms, highlight the influence of expectation. 

 Participants who were informed about potential side effects reported them even when they consumed products without olestra. This suggests that expectations might shape our experiences of consuming beans as well.

Practical tips for enjoying beans without the worry of gas

To mitigate concerns about flatulence, we recommend starting with smaller or half-portions of beans and gradually increasing intake. Trying different types of beans may also help identify which varieties might be more digestible for some individuals. Here are some strategies to minimize discomfort and enhance your enjoyment of beans:

  • Give it time: Adjusting to a higher fiber intake can initially lead to gas, but this often subsides within a few weeks as your digestive system adapts. Regular bean consumption can normalize your gut flora's reaction to increased fiber.
  • Gradual introduction: Start with small servings of beans and gradually increase the amount. Begin with a quarter cup of beans and slowly work your way up to larger portions as your digestive system adjusts.
  • Experiment with different types: If certain beans cause discomfort, try a variety of others. Each type of bean has a different composition, and you might find some varieties easier to digest than others.
  • Change the water: When preparing dry beans, soak them first and then discard the soaking water. Cook the beans in fresh water to reduce the galactooligosaccharides (indigestible compounds that can cause gas) that leach into the soaking water. Though these compounds have prebiotic benefits, removing them can decrease gas.
  • Acceptance of natural processes: Understand that producing gas is a natural aspect of digestion, especially when consuming fiber-rich foods like beans. This process is crucial for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Rinse canned beans: If you use canned beans, rinse them thoroughly under cold running water before cooking. This can help remove some of the sugars that contribute to gas production.
  • Incorporate digestive aids: Consider using over-the-counter digestive aids that help break down indigestible sugars in beans.
  • Combine with digestible foods: Eating beans with easily digestible foods like rice or vegetables can sometimes help mitigate gas problems.
  • Cook beans properly: Ensure beans are thoroughly cooked. Proper cooking can help break down some of the complex sugars that lead to gas.
  • Keep perspective: Remember, the health benefits of beans are significant. They are packed with protein, fiber, and various nutrients, all while supporting environmental sustainability. The temporary discomfort of gas shouldn't deter you from incorporating beans into your diet regularly. All these tips are great, but how do different beans actually stack up when it comes to fiber and digestion?

How different beans affect digestion?

While all beans contain raffinose, they don't all cause the same levels of gas, bloating, and flatulence. Research on dietary fiber in cooked beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas has revealed significant variations in cell wall composition and fiber content among different pulses.

The study highlighted substantial amounts of galacto-oligosaccharides and resistant starch, which contribute to the health benefits of these pulses. 

Despite cooking and simulated digestion, cell walls and some starch granules remained intact and semi-crystalline, respectively, aiding in the low glycemic response of pulses. Soluble fibers were pectin-rich and varied in viscosity, while insoluble fibers were primarily cellulose. 

Overall, the findings emphasize the diverse and beneficial fiber composition in pulses, supporting their role in promoting gut health and managing blood sugar levels.

Managing intestinal gas from beans

Managing intestinal gas from beans

The American Heart Association recommends including beans and other legumes as part of a healthy diet, as they help lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

In a recent study, researchers investigated the levels of resistant starch (RS) in black beans, pinto beans, and chickpeas during various cooking times and after cooling. Results showed that RS levels dropped sharply within the first 30 minutes of cooking but stabilized afterward.

Pinto beans emerged as the best RS source after an hour of cooking. Additionally, allowing beans to cool for 24 hours significantly increased RS content. Processed products also exhibited higher RS levels than freshly cooked legumes. To maximize RS intake, incorporating a cooling period for cooked legumes is recommended.

Eating more beans and whole grains can be good for your health because they contain beneficial nutrients like oligosaccharides, found in raffinose, stachyose, and verbascose. However, it's worth noting that these foods might cause increased intestinal gas at first

Here are some effective strategies to mitigate gas-producing compounds in beans:

  • Add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking water and let the beans soak for eight to ten hours. Some people also suggest using vinegar, though its effectiveness may vary.
  • Thoroughly rinse the beans and discard the soaking water, as it contains gas-causing sugars. Use fresh water for cooking.
  • Cook beans slowly in a crockpot for several hours to help reduce gas production.
  • Rinse canned beans thoroughly before consumption to significantly decrease the amount of gas-producing oligosaccharides.
  • Introduce beans into the diet gradually, starting with small amounts, to allow the digestive system to adjust.

By following these tips, you can enjoy the benefits of beans while minimizing discomfort from intestinal gas.

In summary, while beans are often associated with causing flatulence, the discomfort typically diminishes with regular consumption as the body adjusts to increased fiber intake. Understanding the types of beans and their preparation can further help minimize gastrointestinal discomfort.

Beans provide significant health benefits, including enhancing cardiovascular health, managing blood sugar, and supporting overall digestive health.

Embrace the full benefits of beans with The Good Bug’s comprehensive range of prebiotics and dietary fibers designed to enhance your gut health. Visit The Gut Academy for more vital advice and solutions, empowering you to actively improve your gut health for a more fulfilling and joyful life.


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